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MONODRAUGHT - Windcatcher Design Is An ‘Eye-Catching Feature’ Of New Goldsmiths Campus

Internationally renowned for its creative and innovative approach to teaching and research, Goldsmiths, University of London has nearly 9,000 students taking part in undergraduate, postgraduate, teacher training and return-to-study opportunities in subjects covering the arts, social sciences, humanities and computing.

A £16 million cutting-edge academic building has been sensitively designed by architects Stride Treglown to be eye-catching, attractive and blend in with the surrounding College Green aesthetic, including the auspicious Richard Hoggart Building opposite. This new 6,500 square metre, four-storey building now houses the University’s Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship and Department of Media and Communications, and has allowed different sections of the two departments that were scattered across the campus, to centralise into a single purpose-built space.

To minimise the overall height of the new building, and its impact on the original college buildings surrounding it, a basement was excavated to help incorporate double-height ceilings for lecture theatres and studios. A glass frontage helped to reflect the surrounding trees and two fully operational Monodraught Windcatcher natural ventilation systems and two matching, non-operational Windcatcher terminals were installed to ‘mirror’ the chimneys on the original Richard Hoggart building facing it. The glazed concourse that connects the building’s four floors and accommodates a cafe at the base is naturally ventilated through a cross flow ventilation strategy was designed to allow fresh air to be drawn in at low level and extracted through the two active Windcatcher systems.

To ensure that the ventilation requirements of the new building are also future-proofed, the two non-operational Windcatchers terminals can simply be activated by Monodraught if increased natural ventilation is required to serve the cafe and Lecture Theatre foyer areas.

Commenting for architects Stride Treglown, John Kirkby says: “The Windcatchers needed to be of a size that was in proportion to the building, whilst ensuring they operated efficiently.

This meant that they are taller than cross flow ventilation principals actually require but, as the concourse is lower than the building it fronts, the top of the terminals needed to be tall enough to ensure they would capture the wind from any direction.”

He goes on to say that the imaginative tapering design of the Windcatchers and their size has created an expressive form that is a key feature of the building and an exciting addition to the new campus. The Windcatchers also actively promote the building to visitors and students as being naturally ventilated and, he adds: “We are very pleased with the result.”

From the outset, the University’s aspiration was to achieve a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, of which natural ventilation forms an integral part of the credit. During the construction process, the University decided to increase the BREEAM target to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating with the result that the sustainability features of the building were further enhanced.

“As a practice, we take sustainability very seriously.” says John. “It was always a primary driver that as much of the building as possible would be naturally ventilated. We spoke to Monodraught because they have a reputation for designing quality natural ventilation systems that not only look good but work properly. Their senior designers reviewed our sketches and, at no cost to us or the contractor, designed and developed a system that would work for the building.”

The new academic building at Goldsmiths University of London is already acknowledged by students and lecturers as an inspirational space where they can meet and exchange ideas using the informal areas created within the building and concourse.

Windcatcher is a registered trademark owned by Monodraught Limited.

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